ISO files are binary image files which are supported by a wide variety of optical media, including CD/DVD-ROM, HD DVD, Blu-ray, and UMD (Universal Media Disc). The ISO format is an image archive file developed by the International Organization for Standardization which defines file formats for optical media. ISO file extension follows the ISO 9660 standard and supports a variety of operating systems, including Windows, Mac, UNIX, and Linux.
Files that contain the ISO extension are disk images of an optical disc and are typically in an unattached format such as RAR or ZIP. The purpose of an ISO file is to combine a series of optical media files into one file that is supported by a wide variety of media applications.
In terms of content, ISO files contain duplicate data from the original disc in addition to information pertaining to directories, file systems, and coding. The files are beneficial to backing up CDs and DVDs and are useful for restoring disc data to its original state.
How to Open ISO Files
ISO files follow a standard optical media format, which means they can be opened and viewed by a wide variety of applications. If you are unsure exactly what program created the ISO file, you can try double clicking on the file to see if it opens in a default program you have installed on your PC.
If you use Windows, you can open ISO files with Roxio Creator 2012 which is a widely used multimedia software suite for Windows. The software allows you to create DVDs and Blu-ray discs in addition to accessing a variety of video and editing tools. Roxio Creator is also capable of opening more than 75 different file formats including files with the ISO extension.
You can also use WinISO Standard 6 to open ISO files in Windows. This is a utility tool that can create CD/DVD and Blu-ray files in addition to converting files to another media format. WinISO is available in both a free and paid version from the WinISO website. There is also a broad range of other applications that work with Windows, some of which include MagicISO MagicDisc, Alcohol 120%, Windows Disc Image Burner, and NeoSmart Technologies EasyBCD.
For Mac OS X you can use the Apple Disk Utility to open ISO files and repair any file errors. Other programs that work with Mac include Roxio Toast 11, VMware Fusion 4, and Parallels Desktop for Mac. You may also use VideoLAN VLC Media Player which is an open source media program that also works with the Linux operating system.
Since ISO files are typically in a compressed format, you can open ISO files with compression utility programs such as WinRAR or WinZip. Once you extract the files, you can convert them to another archive file format. If you choose to convert ISO files, they must be converted to the BIN, NRG, DAA, ISZ, or MDF file extensions.